I’ve spent three weeks — three freaking weeks — agonizing over how to write up an article about my picks for the best horror of 2017. With two films that would classically be considered as horror by the elite of Hollywood’s biggest studios (Get Out and The Shape of Water) being in the running for Best Picture and a number of other prestigious honors at the Academy Awards, it seems only right that we should be talking more about the cultural and artistic value of horror in society. But, as I struggled to assemble my own selections for various categories, it occurred to me that a devoted group of fans and cinephiles had already done this with the Rondo Awards.
Since 2002, The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards have been bestowed upon the men and women who create the horror community and lifestyle that we have all come to love so well. But unlike awards that are presented to a specific niche of the creative community like film or music, the Rondos cover every aspect of horror you can imagine. Each year they select movies, books, bands and much more to honor for their work in making the world a more wonderfully creepy place.
Here are a few of the categories that voters can choose from: Best Movie, Best Television Presentation, Best Classic on DVD/Blu-ray, Best Independent Film, Best Short Film, Book of the Year, Best Convention, Best Horror Site… the list is 29 categories long and comprises everything from film to live events and horror hosts. And unlike tomorrow’s Oscar ceremony, it isn’t just Academy members who get to choose the best of the best. The Rondos are open for everyone to vote on, encouraging fans and creators alike to get involved in an active conversation about the continuing evolution and growth of the horror community. There’s also, of course, a Nashville connection.
One of my favorite memories as a high-school kid was staying up late — I mean really late — to tune in to the WB (now CW) to watch Dr. Gangrene’s Chiller Cinema. Larry Underwood, a Nashville native, added to the horror landscape and introduced a new generation of viewers to the concept of the horror host. With entertaining, humorous and bizarre interludes in between scenes of cheesy B-films, Dr. Gangrene gave horror a jolt in Middle Tennessee and offered viewers a chance to see such schlock classics as The Killer Shrews. There were also great movies like Vincent Price’s The Last Man on Earth and Night of the Living Dead. Dr. Gangrene received a Rondo in 2014 for his work as a horror blogger and is once again in the running as both a horror blogger and horror host.
The Academy Awards are great in that they honor filmmakers and crews who work hard to introduce us all to a level of art and cinema that many of us might never enjoy. But they’re simply not inclusive enough as the recent nominations of Get Out and The Shape of Water prove. The level of shocked surprise and denial of the horror and science-fiction roots of these nominations is proof that Hollywood just isn’t ready to embrace the cinematic, artistic and cultural value of horror. Despite the longstanding tradition that horror represents in our culture, there’s still a long way to go before it’s openly accepted for its value as a part of our heritage.
Get over to the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards website and cast your vote. And be sure to spread the word so everyone in the community has a chance to participate in this amazing annual event. Horror fans, these are our Oscars. Let’s spread the love, the excitement and the mayhem with everyone.